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The doctrine of innate ideas is one of the most admirable faiths of philosophy, being itself an innate idea and therefore... Options
Daemon
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 12:00:00 AM
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The doctrine of innate ideas is one of the most admirable faiths of philosophy, being itself an innate idea and therefore inaccessible to disproof...Among innate ideas may be mentioned the belief...in the greatness of one's country, in the superiority of one's civilization, in the importance of one's personal affairs, and in the interesting nature of one's diseases.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 7:32:34 AM
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Perhaps Bierce had a different idea of the actual meaning of 'innate'?

Of course, not being, at that time, aware of the knowledge the discovery of DNA would bring about, its entirely possible that what he meant by the word and what we understand from it are two different constructs. Is it just chance, one wonders, that caused him to list the nature of one's diseases according to our current definition? Or does anyone else agree that jingoism, chauvinism and self-absorption are innate?

(On reflection though, I expect a case could be made for each by diving back to the original survival mechanisms which trigger each?)

MTC
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 8:49:33 AM
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INNATE, adj. Natural, inherent – as innate ideas, that is to say, ideas that we are born with, having had them previously imparted to us. The doctrine of innate ideas is one of the most admirable faiths of philosophy, being itself an innate idea and therefore inaccessible to disproof, though Locke foolishly supposed himself to have given it "a black eye." Among innate ideas may be mentioned the belief in one's ability to conduct a newspaper, in the greatness of one's country, in the superiority of one's civilization, in the importance of one's personal affairs and in the interesting nature of one's diseases

The Devil's Dictionary

By the "Doctrine of Innate Ideas" Bierce meant the "philosophical doctrine that holds that the mind is born with ideas/knowledge, and that therefore the mind is not a 'blank slate' at birth, as early empiricists such as John Locke claimed. It asserts therefore that not all knowledge is obtained from experience and the senses." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innatism)

In his definition of "innate" Bierce satirized the Doctrine by listing as examples beliefs that common sense tells us are learned-- not innate: "belief in one's ability to conduct a newspaper, in the greatness of one's country, in the superiority of one's civilization, in the importance of one's personal affairs and in the interesting nature of one's diseases." These are really counter-examples of the Doctrine. At the same time Bierce trivialized and undercut patriotism and cultural chauvinism by placing the "greatness of ones country" and "the superiority of ones civilization" on the same plane with "the importance of ones affairs" and the "interesting nature of ones diseases."

All together, brilliant satire.

ithink140
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 9:11:43 AM
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Interesting comments above, and yes Bierce's satire is very funny. I don't think he was precluding the notion of innateness, but rather taking a humorous swipe at those things that, self-evidently, are not innate and what it is that motivates such attitudes and beliefs.

I am not sure that that the advances in reading DNA can rule in or out whether we are born with things innate. I tend to think we are and that they are of an incorporeal nature
Swami108
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 10:06:59 AM

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MTC, great work!
That explained every bit of it.
Thanks, otherwise I would have gone bald understanding this.
jcbarros
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 10:34:05 AM

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The world of the unconscious mind, who knows its dephts?
capitán
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 11:37:57 AM

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Even though it only explains some of the human beliefs and behaviors, let´s not forget about the importance of socialization. Regardless of innatism, people are shaped by both the genes and the social factors. I think that it might be worthy to reflect upon the gene-environment correlation. Does the environment interact with people´s genotype to somehow ignite some kind of behavior? And how this socialization influences the shaping of a man and his perspectives?
Verbatim
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 4:00:59 PM
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Daemon wrote:
The doctrine of innate ideas is one of the most admirable faiths of philosophy, being itself an innate idea and therefore inaccessible to disproof...Among innate ideas may be mentioned the belief...in the greatness of one's country, in the superiority of one's civilization, in the importance of one's personal affairs, and in the interesting nature of one's diseases.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)


Among innate ideas...of the king Bierce ridiculed some are obviously inane. Particularly when considering how such ideas are used, their purpose.
Perhaps atavism is not only concerned with natural traits and behavior which signify the primitive in our ancestors.
Why not accept that their primitive ideas are surviving by throwback? We see examples of devolution all the time, applaud them.Applause
Verbatim
Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 11:09:57 PM
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Edit by Verbatim: ...of the kind Bierce ridiculed...
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